Created two years ago to both recognize and encourage sustainable and responsible tourism development, Mekong Tourism initiative the Experience Mekong Collection (EMC) Showcase has tilted its spotlight on six new organisations for the second annual showcase release.
By choosing one organization from each Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) country, the MTCO along with the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG) endorsed and selected “best practice” tourism organisations specifically committed to sustainable and responsible practices. As previously structured, each showcase organisation is thematically categorized by either ‘DO’, ‘SHOP’, ‘STAY’, ‘TASTE’, ‘TOUR’, and ‘CRUISE’. The 2018 Experience Mekong Collection Showcases included Phare Cambodian Circus (Cambodia), Longji Rice Terraces Guangxi (China), Ock Pop Tok (Lao PDR), Inle Heritage Place (Myanmar), Local Alike (Thailand), and Koto (Viet Nam).
“The importance of responsible tourism cannot be underestimated and the Experience Mekong Collection is a wonderful way of highlighting small business examples of good practice,” said MTCO executive director Jens Thraenhart.
“In doing so, this sets several benchmarks to further improve travel experiences in the Greater Mekong Subregion. We hope this motivates other operators to become more involved and do their part for responsible tourism,” he said.
Chosen among all current members of the Experience Mekong Collection, the 2019 Experience Mekong Collection Showcase selectees are as follows:
Cambodia: Soksabike (Tour category) is Battambang’s premier bike tour social enterprise offering guests an insight into the traditional livelihoods of the Cambodian countryside. The tour places an emphasis on educating guests in the realities of life in rural Cambodia and ensures that all visits make a positive impact on the local communities.
Surrounded by rice fields in the ancient town of Xizhou in Yunnan, China: The Linden Centre’s (Stay category) goal is to serve as rural havens for deeper interaction with the Dali community and structured explorations of China’s past. The award-winning boutique hotel is a nationally protected heritage site that has been restored to its former dynastic elegance, here guests have an avenue for cultural immersion and exchange with each other and the local community.
Lao PDR: Elephant Conservation Center (Do category) offers to experience the power of the majestic elephant. At the Center, a dedicated team of guides, mahouts and elephant vets will take you into the world of Lao elephants. Not only will you enjoy a relaxing stay in the Nam Tien protected area but you will also learn all you want to know about Asia’s most iconic creature.
Myanmar: Hla Day (Shop category) offers quality contemporary and traditional handicrafts sourced from local producers often struggling to overcome disability, exclusion and poverty. Hla Day provides a fair-trade marketplace and training for small Myanmar craft producers, opening opportunities to improve their social and economic situation.
Thailand: Sampran Riverside (Stay category) is located just outside Bangkok and has provided local entertainment, relaxation, accommodation and a place to meet since 1962. Culture, tradition and a native way of life have been preserved through daily practices and performances. The eco-cultural destination has been engaging with local farmers of Nakornpatom province promoting organic agriculture through the Sampran Model.
Lastly, Viet Nam: STREETS International (Taste category) is an innovative social enterprise initiative with the purpose to develop and operate sustainable programs for street kids and disadvantaged youth in SE Asia and throughout the world. STREETS also prepares vulnerable, orphaned and other disadvantaged young people for careers in hospitality.
Case studies on each of the 2019 experiences are to be developed by students of the Mahidol University International College in Thailand. Summarised and well-designed snippets of these case study reports are set to be presented at MTF 2019 in China as well as other tourism community events.
All members of the Experience Mekong Collection are highlighted on a feature page on www.ExperienceMekong.org, as well as a dedicated mini site on MekongMoments.com in addition to being recognized by a certified badge reflecting its responsible and sustainable practice. Other benefits for members include a free booth at this year’s Mekong Tourism Forum and discounted rates from select sales and marketing services partners.